Making the pool challenge work

Published 3:23 pm Friday, May 6, 2016

To the Editor,
Less than two months ago I stood in the council chambers of the municipal building beaming with pride at Washington High Schools first state championship in a generation, won by the boys swim team.
You can imagine my surprise to learn that in those same council chambers the idea of closing the ‘home field’ pool of that same state champion swim team is being seriously considered.
I understand, respect and support the general concept of fiscal conservatism by our elected officials. However, the closing of the pool is more than just an insult to a high school swim community: it is a poor representation of much that we value as a community committed to the full health of our citizens.
I have heard it said that the city should not be in the “pool business.” If not, should the city be in the dock business, the baseball, soccer and softball business or the maintenance of parks business? There are numbers of local recreational entities supported by tax dollars that are not called upon to be financially self-supporting.
Speaking of tax dollars, our huge “empty nest” and retirement-age population who pay taxes to support recreational and educational endeavors in which they have no interest are the primary users of the pool during the week.
The assertion that “no one uses the pool” is changing rapidly, and this is fact. The summer Whitecaps swim team, which has competed at the private Washington Swim Club (closed this summer) in recent years, will be using the city aquatic center this summer. All the families associated with the Whitecaps will be joining the aquatic center with a three-month summer membership.
Lastly, as a realtor who welcomes newcomers, the aquatic center and surrounding facilities are a local gem that I regularly show off to prospective residents. During multiple high school and summer swim meets, the out of town families support the local restaurants for indirect economic benefit.
I am not so naïve as to demand my city government fund everything that makes life full here in our beloved city of Washington — and this city is beloved to me and so many who call it home. I would ask that we creatively and thoughtfully approach this pool challenge with an objective of making it work.
If this rings a bell with any of the WDN readers, please join my voice in speaking up for the pool. One such opportunity is Monday afternoon in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.

Jay Martin